HSBC, the financial-services giant, believes that using robots in bank branches can help fuel interest in the retail arm of its business, as well as driving other benefits for its brand.

Pepper – a robot created by SoftBank Robotics – was introduced into HSBC’s flagship branch at 426 Fifth Avenue in New York on 26th June 2018.

And Jeremy Balkin, head/innovation for the banking group in the United States, suggested this automaton represents a powerful step forward in the largely inert banking sector.

“Banks, certainly at physical retail, are going through some of the challenges that all retail is going through,” he said at FUSE Unfiltered, a conference held by KNect365. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How HSBC used a robot to build a retail banking brand.)

“Except banks aren’t really doing anything to make the interactive experience anything that’s even remotely wanted, or exciting, or gamified, or pleasant or, frankly, inviting.”

Against this backdrop, Pepper was intended to help HSBC stand out from the crowd with regard to the experience it provides to consumers.

“We don’t understand why it is that in 2018 – when Fifth Avenue has millions of people a day commuting, walking, interacting, spending, experiencing – retail bank customers have to be any less well off or less experienced [in exciting ways] than visiting the Apple store or Nike store,” said Balkin.

While this robotic assistant does pose for selfies, she – HSBC’s preferred pronoun for Pepper – can also fulfill a variety of useful tasks, like greeting visitors, answering questions, flagging up products and promotions, and notifying a banker when one is needed.

This mix of buzz generation and functionality, for Balkin, promised to address several problems for HSBC, like building its brand, driving foot traffic, cutting wait times, assisting consumers in different languages, and freeing up staff for higher-value tasks.

Driving emotional engagement in a traditionally low-interest category is another aim. “We want customers to fall in love with banking again,” Balkin said.

“Banking has been through a tough time in the past ten years … We want customers of all ages to love banking, to be inspired by banking, [and] we want to set a tone for folks who want to come work for us.”

Sourced from WARC